If you have a hammer, everything is a nail. If you have a service blueprint, everything is a detail to be nailed down, even if those details don’t contribute to your ultimate goal. To design and deploy services, it’s crucial to have both journey maps and service blueprints in your tool kit. This post will help you determine which tool is right for the job. 


What’s the difference, anyway? 

A customer journey map is a detailed visual document that captures the customer experience across touch points, including what the customer is doing, thinking, and/or feeling. A service blueprint is a detailed visual document that captures the service delivery process across touch points, including the back stage and front stage of the service delivery. 

To say that another way: Journey maps contain fewer process details, but more information about the customer experience; Service blueprints contain fewer experience details, but more information about the processes that deliver the service. At their most extreme, journey maps are more experience-centric and service blueprints are more process-centric.

The right tool for the job

The tool you choose should be a direct outcome of your intended goals. If you want to improve customer experience, a journey map probably makes the most sense. If you want to operationalize a service vision, a blueprint probably makes the most sense. Here are a few examples of common situations. 

The blueprint is best when your goal is: 

  • to identify process breakdowns and opportunities for process improvements 
  • to inform an implementation plan for a new service 
  • to examine service metrics in the context of service delivery processes 
  • to define a vision for how a service or touch point(s) could become higher or lower touch

The journey map is best when your goal is: 

  • to identify customer pain points and service gaps 
  • to design a new service with customer experience at the core 
  • to examine the customer experience across touch points of a service 
  • to define a vision for how a service or touch point(s) could change the customer experience

Different, but not so different 

Here is where it might get a bit confusing. Both journey maps and service blueprints examine the touch points that a customer encounters across channels. Both have swim lanes, and both capture one customer’s experience over time. I think of customer experience mapping as a continuum, from journeys on one end to blueprints on the other. 

In a journey, each moment in time is focused on the customer experience; in a blueprint, each moment in time is focused on the service delivery. By adding or subtracting certain certain swim lanes, you can create a map that is more journey, more blueprint, or a hybrid that meets your goals. 

The right tool for you 

A tool is not a sacred artifact, it’s an implement for a purpose. Ultimately, the customer experience map you create should help you achieve your goals. If you’ve found your way there, and if your map is helping your organization think holistically about service experiences, then you’ve probably chosen the right tool.